I’ve learned some things in my work for the legal system. I’ve learned people can be bad people and do bad things, I’ve learned people can be good people and do bad things. I’ve learned not all cops, attorneys, and judges are interested in doing what is right but rather what is easy. I’ve learned victims can be hard to sympathize with as they lash out in anger. I’ve learned money can buy a certain amount of influence. I’ve learned that the general public often knows nothing about how the system works.
What I’ve really learned is that the justice system isn’t really about justice and every group of people has outliers. We shouldn’t need the law to tell us how we should treat each other in this world, whether it is with our deeds or with our words. There’s also no shame in remembering that today when I see acts of violence in my city and words of hatred on my news feed. I try to tell myself these are good people doing hateful things because these are people I felt were my friends saying awful things or these are people who are my community acting out in violence. I want to believe in the good in people and yet I wonder how many people I feel I’m giving the benefit of the doubt I’m really just excusing.
There are 3 neighborhoods in St. Louis that were touched by the reaction to Ferguson. One was guarded and protected by police and the National Guard. One was given a chance to protest peacefully and had law enforcement step in when needed. Another was allowed to burn. It’s a perfect embodiment of our community divided in St. Louis and how easy it can be to look the other way.
There is no simple answer to describe what is happening in Ferguson and anyone who tries to give you one is ignorant of the entire situation. People are angry about many things. People are scared about many things. People are sad about many things. I don’t think St. Louis is alone in feeling that way. I woke up today deciding I can let those worries control me or I can keep working to bring about positive change in my community. I hope I don’t let me down.